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Why Fans Think The Ending Of Penny Dreadful Ruined The Show

For only 27 episodes, fans were given the almost perfect gift in Showtime's Victorian accomplishment, "Penny Dreadful." John Logan's series about famous monsters from literature delivers one of the most beautiful and complicated characters on television: Vanessa Ives. Portrayed by Eva Green in all her enigmatic and magnetic glory, "Penny Dreadful" follows her crisis of faith as her dual natures battle for dominance. Along the way, Vanessa enlists the help of gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Harnett) to help her find childhood friend Mina Harker (Olivia Llewellyn) — yes that Mina Harker — after being kidnapped by the forces of darkness.

Vampires, wolf-men, and many Frankenstein monsters all populate the series, to beautiful effect, as well as telling a compelling story about Vanessa attempting to resist a turn to the dark side. So masterful was the storytelling that many fans were devastated to learn that "Penny Dreadful" was canceled and Season 3 would be Vanessa's final curtain call. 

Now, many prestige shows have limited runs, and that news didn't necessarily mean that the series would lose its rewatch value. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. In the final moments of the series finale, "The Blessed Dark," fans were horrified at the surprising ending.

The rushed ending left viewers cold

After three seasons of fighting against her dark destiny, Vanessa does the unthinkable in the series finale. Desperately attempting to escape the clutches of Dracula (Christian Camargo), she decides to die in order to take herself off the board. And of course there is only one man she asks to accomplish this task: Ethan must be the one to kill the woman he loves.

Viewers weren't happy.

"Penny Dreadful was incredible," posted u/BearBruin on Reddit. "The ending was a terrible representation of how great it was." Indeed, not many Redditors could get behind the decision to kill Vanessa after so many years of struggle. "One of those ending that really made me angry. They make her character so cool and unique then rushed the ending plot and kill their best character!" proclaimed Redditor u/Beatrix_Kiddo_Lives

The end of the series was over with quickly, and it left little emotional catharsis for fans. Vanessa is sent gently into that good night with so much haste that there was no room to process it. This also brings up the Ethan and Vanessa of it all — that is, the nature of the series is how doom permeates the characters' lives. Were they really meant to grow old together? Decidedly not. But "Penny Dreadful" still withholds any time together that the couple is owed. Though they clearly love each other, their relationship ends before it ever has a chance to begin. The disrespect towards Vanessa was felt by many fans who endured the finale.

However, those who crafted the ending stood by it in the wake of widespread criticism, and their arguments are interesting.

Vanessa's death was preordained

It wasn't only fans who raised issues with the finale of "Penny Dreadful." Critics also raised understandable issues after viewing the episode. Melanie McFarland, writing for Vox, didn't find Vanessa's final character turn believable, feeling that it betrayed everything she had stood for before. 

But as painful as that may be, Vanessa's death was not an impulsive decision. It was, in fact, how the creator envisioned it. "This is a show about Vanessa Ives and her struggle with faith — how one woman grapples with God and the devil," John Logan told Variety. "Midway through the second season, when we were filming it — so about two years ago — I realized where we were heading."

After renouncing her faith throughout all of her trials and tribulations, Vanessa is rewarded in the end. With her death also comes the confirmation of a higher power as she sees the face of God and finally feels his embrace. This is a point she has been working towards, and it completes her character arc. Most importantly, the woman behind Vanessa Ives supports the ending as well. "We kind of wrote the ending together," Eva Green said in a behind the scenes look at the series finale (via YouTube). "He wrote it, but I kind of brought my input. I always thought that Vanessa deserves to go to the light." 

There would be no Vanessa without the accomplished actor who portrays her. And even though Green had to say goodbye to a beloved character, there is some hope in Vanessa finally being at peace.